When A Company Takes Heart In Employee Health

Internationally, the month of October recognizes breast cancer awareness. The campaign for early detection, prevention, and treatment has grown exponentially strong in recent years, not only in the US, where the movement was born, but even in our tiny Lebanon.

The ads you see splashed across Lebanese media point to a surging consciousness of the disease and its potentially fatal hold of the fairer sex. But what we don’t realize is, although cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, it doesn’t top the list. In fact, and unapparent to many, it is second to coronary heart disease in both men and women.

This year, Bank of Beirut, one of Lebanon’s premier financial institutions, celebrated their female staff by hosting an informative session led by Yaduna’s Women Heart Health Center (WHHC). Founded in 2012 by former First Lady Wafaa Sleiman, Yaduna Foundation is a non-governmental, non-profit organization meant to empower underprivileged Lebanese and Arab women.

Bank of Beirut's female staff attend an info session
led by Yaduna's Women Heart Health Center

The mission is to provide quality services, foster awareness and uphold best practices. The vision is to become a reference in women development, and become they have, namely through WHCC, which today offers screening, prevention, and primary treatment for 2,550 patients at subsidized cost.

Bank of Beirut’s women tuned in to cardiologist Dr. Ziad Itani (AUBMC), who cited that 64% of women dying from coronary heart disease each year show no prior indication of poor heart health. Risk factors include age, genetics, hypertension, and diabetes, as well as avoidable culprits like an unhealthy diet, lack of physical exercise, and smoking.

Dr. Ziad Itani elucidates the factors of coronary heart disease

Yaduna’s dietitian and nutrition consultant Hana Ziad Arabi delved into the details, harping on regular consumption of vegetables, fruits, grains, low-fat and fat-free dairy, lean meats and other protein-heavy foods and oil. The trick is to limit saturated fats, trans fats, added sugars and sodium intake. 

Dark chocolate with cocoa content upward of 60% can be helpful, as can avocados and raw nuts in moderation, of course. Aim for 150 minutes of walking weekly, and attain quick wins at work like opting for the stairs and ambling about 90 seconds every hour.

Dietitian Hana Ziad Arabi presents a table on dos and don'ts in eating habits

Social worker Diana el Helou enumerated the different services Yaduna affords, including screenings, dietetic counseling, smoking cessation therapy, and lab tests. Yaduna receives women of all socioeconomic backgrounds into their auspices, to ensure equal access to education and treatment.

Social work Diana el Helou invites members of the audience
to visit Yaduna and exploit its repertoire of services

At the close of the forum, Four Seasons Beirut pampered guests with a selection of wholesome snacks, including smoked salmon in whole-wheat ciabatta rolls, raw tuna and veggies wrapped in rice paper, oats with honey, fruit smoothies, and homemade granola bars. Be Different jeweler Roula Nahas gifted each lady a dainty gold-plated pendant in the shape of a heart fused with the EKG rhythm heartbeat.

The healthy range, from fruit smoothies, salads, and oats with honey,
to smoked salmon ciabatta rolls

It’s inspiring to see major Lebanese corporations and companies invest in the well-being of their employees, even if it means pulling them out of the office and sacrificing a few hours of their productivity to clue them in on self-care. Kudos to Bank of Beirut for taking heart in the health of its assets!

Yours truly!


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